2016 Jack D. Rittenhouse Award

PubWest Announces 2016 Lifetime Achievement Awards
Go to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Elaine Katzenberger

The Rittenhouse Award was established in 1990 as a way to thank and honor those who have made a real contribution to the western community of the book. The award is given annually in memory of Jack D. Rittenhouse, the West’s consummate bookman.

“The Jack D. Rittenhouse Award pays tribute to those who have made extraordinary contributions to book publishing, specifically in the West,” said PubWest Board President Katie Burke. “Established in 1990, its roster of honorees includes publishers, retailers, educators, and writers. We are honored ourselves to present the award to Mr. Ferlinghetti and Ms. Katzenberger, both quintessential devotees to the culture of the book.”

Elaine Katzenberger accepted the Rittenhouse Awards during PubWest 2016, which took place February 4-6, 2016, at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A prominent voice of the wide-open poetry movement that began in the 1950s, Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote poetry, translation, fiction, theater, art criticism, film narration, and essays. His A Coney Island of the Mind continues to be one of the most popular poetry books in the United States, with over 1 million copies in print.

Ferlinghetti was born on March 24, 1919, son of Carlo Ferlinghetti, an immigrant from Brescia, Italy, and Clemence Mendes-Monsanto. Following his undergraduate years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. In 1945, just after the atomic bomb obliterated Nagasaki, he witnessed firsthand the horrific ruins of the city. This experience was the origin of his lifelong antiwar stance.
Ferlinghetti received a Master’s degree in English Literature from Columbia University in 1947 and a Doctorate de l’Université de Paris (Sorbonne) in 1950. He took up residence in San Francisco, and in 1953, with Peter D. Martin, founded City Lights Bookstore, the first all-paperback bookshop in the country. His goal was to create a “literary meeting place” for writers, readers, artists, and intellectuals.

In 1955, Ferlinghetti launched City Lights Publishers with the aim of creating “an international, dissident ferment.” The Pocket Poets series began with his own Pictures of the Gone World; translations by Kenneth Rexroth and poetry by Kenneth Patchen, Marie Ponsot, and Allen Ginsberg soon followed. Copies of Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems were seized by authorities in 1956 and Ferlinghetti was arrested and charged with selling obscene material. He defended Howl in court, a case that drew national attention to the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat Generation writers, many of whom he later published.

In the 1960s, Ferlinghetti plunged into a life of frequent travel—giving poetry readings and taking part in festivals , happenings, and literary/political conferences around the world. A resolute progressive, he spoke out on such crucial political issues as the Cuban revolution, the nuclear arms race, farm worker organizing, the Vietnam War, the Sandanista and Zapatista struggles, and the wars in the Middle East.
Ferlinghetti’s paintings have been shown at a number of exhibitions and galleries in the United States and abroad.

Ferlinghetti was named San Francisco’s first Poet Laureate in August 1998, and has been the recipient of numerous awards. A prolific author, he has a dozen books currently in print, most recently in 2015, Writing Across the Landscape: Travel Journals (1950-2013). He is currently at work on a novel.

Elaine Katzenberger is the Executive Director and Publisher of City Lights Books, and Program Director for the City Lights Foundation. Hired as a bookseller in 1987, Katzenberger spent the first six years of her long career at City Lights working as what is now referred to as a “frontline bookseller,” creating new sections in the store and participating in the buying, managing the accounts payable and doing myriad other tasks that have long since been forgotten. In 1993 she began her editorial apprenticeship at City Lights, and by 1995 had moved full time into editorial and had published her first anthology, a cross-border collection of writings about Mexico’s Zapatista uprising. Since then she has edited many books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, a number of which have received prizes and awards. Katzenberger succeeded Nancy J. Peters as the Publisher and Director of the company in 2007, and she continues to acquire and edit titles, most recently City Lights’ first-ever children’s book, which landed on the Times bestseller list for nine consecutive weeks, and the latest book of poetry by Juan Felipe Herrera, our new U.S. Poet Laureate. For the past 20 years, she has also served as President of the Boards of Directors for both La Pocha Nostra, a performing arts organization, and Contraband, a dance theatre company.

About PubWest: PubWest is a non-profit trade association for North American book publishers, from small independent presses to publishing companies with worldwide operations, and related professionals, such as printers, designers, binderies, and publishing freelancers.

The PubWest Board of Directors selects a Rittenhouse Award recipient each year, and the award presentation takes place during the annual PubWest Conference.

See a list of past recipients of the Rittenhouse Award.